It ended in the park. After a summer of late-night phone calls, warm air that smelled of flowers and freshly cut grass, small notes tucked away into the back pocket of jeans, it all just ended. The nights were suddenly shorter and quiet, with only the rush of traffic going by in the far distance. Phone calls seemed to stop and the social media was nothing but a blip on the radar.
That day in the park was the hardest thing Trevor ever had to do. Sitting on a bench for half an hour, picking lint off his jeans just to have something to do with his hands, he waited for her to come. When her shadow fell across him his heart somehow skipped two beats and slowed down at the same time. The sun was somehow muted and the birds fell silent around them. Together they sat on that bench, side-by-side, as they had done so many times before then. He had hoped they would spend many more afternoons like that, too, chatting about everything and nothing, sometimes not even talking to one another. Sometimes all they did was sit and stare out across the hills and trees, watching the soft breezes bend the branches. Soft white clouds drifted lazily across the bluest sky. They didn’t need to talk all the time. The company alone was more than enough.
When they finally had to part ways for the last time that summer, Trevor had held her hand and hadn’t wanted to let go. He never wanted to let go. Her hand was cold and soft and he wanted to hold onto it for as long as possible. She had to go; she couldn’t drag the time out any longer. Before she’d left she’d dipped her hand into her shoulder-bag and pulled out a small gift. It was wrapped in black paper with silvery penguins. He couldn’t help but smile as he’d accepted the present; he truly did love penguins. Watching her walk away was literally the hardest thing he’d had to do in all his twenty-five years. Everything had trembled as she disappeared into her dad’s car and drove away out of sight. By the time he’d finally dragged himself away from that bench, that park, the sun was nothing but a red hot ball in the sky and sinking fast. The sky was a washed-out purple and the street lamps were sputtering to life. The only thing that seemed to anchor him down was the weight of her present in his rucksack.
The gift sat there on his desk for almost five hours straight before he became too curious to resist at least reading the name-tag. He’d tried to distract himself with dinner and speaking to his parents for a couple of hours, but now that he had time to play around with, there was no denying how much he wanted to tear it open. The small silver tag was nothing more than their initial wrapped up in a heart. The paper crinkled in his hand as he tugged the ribbon. The box inside was plain white and popped open easily. His face relaxed into a sincere smile as he plucked up one of the small envelopes inside. There looked like there were tons inside, all of them were brightly coloured; blues, greens, oranges, pinks, purples and reds. He poured them all out onto his desk and rifled through, looking at the neat words scribbled out on the front.
They all seemed to be for certain times in his life. If he was afflicted with anything, or even something silly, there was a specified envelope for it. Once he’d flicked through most of them, he frowned as he slowly looked through each one of them. He was searching for something, anything that would help him through this particular day. It was halfway through the pile when he found exactly what he was looking for. The small envelope was florescent orange with a small white border. On the front of it, in her neat writing, were the words;
'FOR WHEN I’M GONE’
The words swirled down his throat and grew hard and heavy. It was like his breathing was cutting off all over again. His chest felt empty and his heart seemed to give-up completely. His hand trembled as he turned it over and reluctantly tugged the tab free. Inside was a small notecard, the colour matching the envelope. On the front of it there was a small calendar jotted down in blue biro, with a tiny red ‘X’ placed into the first square. On the other side of the card she had written;
’This is the first of many days and I wish I could be there with you. There’s only 365 days left. Take it one day at a time. Use the notes, I promise they’ll help.
It was one of the briefest things she’d ever written since he’d gotten to know her. Somehow, though, it still managed to make him smile. Doodled down on the palm-sized notecard, the calendar didn’t look so daunting. What was a year, really? It was nothing; a notch on the bedpost of life. Not even a notch, more like a splinter. It wasn’t that long, especially when it was just a small card tucked to one side beside his laptop. The time would fly by. That thought alone was enough to make him smile a little more effortlessly.